REPORT OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF PROVINCIAL GRAND LODGE HELD 11th JULY 2023 AT THE ROYAL MASONIC SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, HERTFORDSHIRE
After last year’s scorching summer temperatures, it was a relief to look at the weather forecast on the morning of the 11th July and see that it looked like being a warm day but not too hot, and with little chance of rain.
After months of planning, a lot of hard work setting up on the previous day, and an early start for the Provincial team, the moment had arrived. After a morning busy with the Provincial DC’s exacting rehearsals and last minute problem-solving, members and visitors began to arrive and the temple began to fill.
Once the Right Worshipful Brethren, the Past Deputy Grand Master and current Masters and Commanders had entered in procession, the Provincial Grand Master entered with the Officers of the year and took the Chair.
The Provincial DC then announced a delegation of recently advanced and elevated Brethren, who were greeted with warm applause.
At 3.30pm precisely, the Provincial Grand Master opened Provincial Grand Lodge, and welcomed the many distinguished visitors, including representatives from 20 other Provinces, as well as Heads and Executives of many of the other Masonic orders in Hertfordshire.
After standing to order in memory of departed Brethren, the meeting progressed with the regular items of business before the Provincial Grand Master announced that he was re-appointing W. Bro. Mark Saunders as Deputy Provincial Grand Master and W. Bro. Ray Hoyte as Assistant Provincial Grand Master, thanking them both for all their support during the year. After they had been saluted and responded accordingly, he went on to appoint the remainder of the Officers of the year, including W. Bro. Grahame Lovett as Provincial Grand Senior Warden, although unfortunately ill-health meant that he was unable to
Other significant appointments included W. Bro. John Linley as Provincial Grand Junior Warden, W. Bro. John Hicks as Provincial Grand Treasurer and W. Bro. Graham Kolthammer as Provincial Grand Secretary. In all, the Provincial Grand Master appointed or re-invested 68 brethren, including 15 Promotions and 13 First Appointments to Past Rank. After the newly invested Brethren were saluted, the Provincial Grand Master called off Provincial Grand Lodge, and Paul Coulson and Tim Jenkins, representatives of St. John Ambulance entered, accompanied by the Provincial Grand Charity Steward. W. Bro. David Horne.
The Provincial Grand Master began with a brief recap of the Provincial Charity Appeal that had been launched in November 2022. Having been informed that St John Ambulance were raising funds to purchase a new 4-wheel drive support vehicle at a cost of £65,000, it was decided that the Province would try to help them get closer to their goal. No specific target was set, though the PGM admitted that he had privately dared to hope that we might raise close to £20,000, which would be a very significant amount! After thanking all the Brethren, both individuals and Lodges who had been so incredibly generous, and acknowledging the contributions of both the Provincial Benevolent Fund and a very welcome contribution from the Mark Benevolent Fund, he was able to present Paul and Tim with what he described as a ‘small’ cheque (it measured about a metre across!) for the incredible sum of £44,443.50 which, together with the £26,500 raised by St John Ambulance is enough not only to purchase the vehicle, but to stock and maintain it for some time to come.
After sustained applause, both Tim and Paul addressed the Brethren, thanking them for their generosity, and telling them a little bit more about the vehicle and how it would be used, promising to report back with photographs and details of its activity, before leaving the Temple.
Provincial Grand Lodge was then called back on, and the Provincial Grand Master addressed the Brethren. He began by announcing that he was going to make a very special presentation, which was a Certificate from Mark Grand Lodge in recognition of 60 years of membership. The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies then escorted W. Bro. Mahendra Rajdev to the East. The Provincial Grand Master explained that, following his initiation in 1961, W. Bro. Mahendra, known to all as ‘Mac’, had been exalted in a Chapter in Uganda on 3rd July 1963. As this was a Chapter under the Scottish Constitution, which includes the Mark degree, he was advanced at that same meeting. Active in several Constitutions, Provinces and Lodges, Mac was a founder member of Chevalier Lodge No. 1505 in 1978 and received his 50 year Certificate from R.W. Bro. Chris Radmore in 2013. Presenting him with his 60 year Certificate the Provincial Grand Master congratulated him on the achievement, and thanked him for his continuing support of Hertfordshire Mark Masonry.
The Provincial Grand Master then moved on to the presentation of not one, but two Silver Tokens of Merit. In the time-honoured tradition, he began by giving a few clues to the identity of each. He mentioned that the first recipient was well known as a musician, and familiar face as an organist around the Province, though his latest challenge was to teach the Past Deputy Grand Master to play the trumpet! The mystery was solved when W. Bro Bill Rumford was brought to the East.
The PGM admitted that keeping the Brethren guessing as to the identity of the second recipient would be an almost impossible challenge, as he was so well known. After mentioning his relocation to Kent as a boy, and his joining the Police Force in 1967, the game was already up, and there was no need to mention the well known picture in the Daily Telegraph under the caption ‘The Strong Arm of the Law’! V.W. Bro. Norwell Roberts QPM was then brought to the pedestal and both he and W. Bro. Bill were presented
with their Silver Tokens of Merit, and a silver pin each for them to wear. The PGM thanked both W. Bro. Bill Rumford and a speechless Norwell Roberts for their continued and dedicated contribution to Mark Masonry in Hertfordshire, and for their support and friendship.
The PGM then returned to his seat and addressed Provincial Grand Lodge. He reflected on the year that had passed since his installation in 2022, and both the highs and lows that had taken place. He thanked all the Officers of the year, and paid particular thanks to W. Bro. Tony Potton, who was standing down as Provincial Grand Secretary. The full text of his address can be found here.
Following an alms collection, Provincial Grand Lodge was closed in due form at 5.15pm precisely, and the Brethren and their guests retired to the bars for some very welcome refreshment.
The Festive Board followed at 6.30pm where an interesting variation on the published menu was served*, but warmly received by all present! After the appropriate Toasts and responses, the Provincial Grand Master and his distinguished guests retired from the Festive Board at 8.00pm.
*In other words, due to an administrative mis-communication, it was a completely different menu to that which had been ordered!